Global Education trends

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In the last few years I have found myself immersed traveling around different cultures.  A trend I have observed is that the more educated people has been, the more they are healthy and the more they are cooperative towards the rest.  Following Malow’s hierarchy of needs one can easily understand why is it that education is so important to help establishing a better society.  My favourite philosophers agree that in order for a human to act rationally he/she needs to know clearly which is his/her code of values and their aim in life.

Today’s reality whoever is discouraging to many in regard to the Global Educational trends.  The divergence between the Global North and South in terms of educational development is increasing:

globalliteracychallenges_0

Why is it that development has continued growing uneven in these regions is the field of study of global studies and it requires a long discussion.  One thing is certain: in order for ignorance to be cured there is only one medicine: cheap or free good access to all knowledge.  For this reason I support strongly projects like Google Books and many others in local areas.  I contribute to this global project by donating printed books and providing access to an online ebook collection of Humanities. Now, how are you contributing to this project?

Will History (and people) love Barack Obama?

In a new 538 post, the author Nate Silver spends a lot of energy proving the unsurprising: that presidents who serve longer, and win larger re-electoral margins, are better regarded by history—or at least by historians.  If this is truth I suppose that the reelection of Barack Obama will confirm it.  The President of the U.S. is about one of the most loved Presidents we have had in the last decades and its correlated hate is also one of the highest.  In the time previous to his election I read hundreds of comments in my Facebook profile explaining how the “World as we know it was going to end if he got the reelection”.  Luckily, the world is still going on and chances are that the ideas of Obama & Co. will continue reigning and being popular.

Contemporary History (specially if read through the American lenses) is quite ridiculous.  Their exceptional-ism is impressive and how they read and understand history is also ludicrous.

More interesting is to read the article by Mr. Silver (whom many consider to be THE professional in his field).  Feel free to continue reading it and prepare yourself to laugh.  The world may not end with Barack Obama… it will just get a little sadder…

The rankings I will refer to here come from a composite of the four most recent surveys in which presidential scholars were asked to rank the presidents. (The surveys were conducted between 2008 and 2011). I’ve averaged the rankings among the four surveys and then re-ranked the presidents from 1 to 43 accordingly. (Ties are broken by the best median ranking; Cleveland is counted only once for these purposes.)

We might divide the presidents into three basic groups: good (those who rank in the top 15), poor (those in the bottom 15) and average (everyone in between).

(Continue reading this article…)

Hayek’s Spontaneous Order Goes Global with Instagram

Instagram user diegotrial

Several months ago when I heard the news about Facebook paying $1 Billion for Instagram I thought ‘the world was going crazy’.  My first impression was to think that the ruling scale of values was mistaken.  That people was giving value to unimportant things while the rest of the world was still trying to manage to survive the day.  I couldn’t understand Why would a company pay such a huge amount of money for a software application for smartphones and iPhone that is only used for procrastination and doesn’t create any value for the world? Last week’s volcanic eruption of Fuego Volcano in Guatemala made me change my mind.

The entrepreneurs behind Instagram,  Kevin Systrom and Michel “Mike” Krieger, created an application that was not only user-friendly but that enabled users to share images from anywhere in the world immediately.  Such an application was created (maybe unintentionally) to become one of the fastest image reservoirs of instant news and global interconnection.  When Facebook bought this photo-sharing app and paid $1 Billion they had not only bought the access to an essential function in millions of smartphones around the world but also connected visually the planet as we had never seen before.  Last week’s event in Guatemala was the first time in my life when I could see through my phone in Denmark high quality images of events that were taking place in real-time more than 5,843 miles.  Indeed, Hayek’s ideas of how an spontaneous order works was going global!

“Spontaneous order is what happens when you leave people alone—when entrepreneurs… see the desires of people… and then provide for them. They respond to market signals, to prices. Prices tell them what’s needed and how urgently and where. And it’s infinitely better and more productive than relying on a handful of elites in some distant bureaucracy.” Leonard Reed

To say that the world is interconnected and interdependent means to say that we are able now able of bypassing normal newsbroadcasters around the world.  No longer will be that easy for anyone to control what  the world would see and what the world wouldn’t see (as critized when News corporations around the world have been used to show a biased reservoir of images and videos during the Gulf War, or in the war in Iraq to mention some examples).  Now, with access to photo-sharing applications such as Instagram the world not only has access to interconnection of real-time events but also has what Hayek explained as “a more efficient allocation of societal resources than any design could achieve.”  Instagram is one more societal tool that enables us to achieve the best of humanity if used for the right purposes.  Because of this reasons the founders of Instagram earned  that billion dollars and the world is wealthier today.

Afghanistan during the 50s vs Today

A friend in Facebook posted yesterday an interesting link that read Afghanistan of the 50s-60s”. The description of the website read that “having seen the title of the post, many probably thought that it would be about a wild, backward, medieval country with even worse living conditions…”  However, the photographs in the link failed to “demonstrated” that Afghanistan pre-1950s was some type of a paradise before the Socialist invasion.

While the images show a “decent and civilized” view of Afghanistan in the 50s and 60s they are only a glimpse of the reality of the Asiatic region and of many other European colonies around the globe.  It is a fact that the great majority of the people during colonial times lived in worse conditions than during the Cold War.

As a result of centuries of this mix, Afghanistan was one of the poorest and most illiterate countries in the globe by 1950.  The life expectancy for both men and women was of only 29 years and the average GDP/per capita inflation adjusted was of only $800.00.

By 1970, Afghanistan was still one of the poorest countries managing to increase the life expectancy to only 33 years and the average GDP/per capita to $833.00  Today, Afghanistan has some of the lowest rankings of health, education and economic growth on Earth even after decades of investments done in infrastructure by the Soviet Union during the Cold War’s competition vs the United States.

Soviet investment during the 50s in Afghanistan

 What caused this economic and social stagnation vs the rest of the World?

Afghanistan is a complex historical mix of:

  • Centuries of imperialistic control (Mongol, Mughal, British, Soviet, American) +
  • autocratic tribalism +
  • religious intolerance  +
  • control of the economy by the state +
  • regional oligarchies +
  • disrespect for individual rights

The previous only kept increasing and by 1973, Afghanistan was what some would define a modern democratic state with free elections, parliamentary ruling, civil rights, women’s rights and universal suffrage that failed to improve the life of its inhabitants.  Becoming a democratic state with a parliamentary ruling is of no help when the ruling philosophy of a country and of its ruling elite is based on the principle of freedom to violate individual rights.

The past was not necessarily better than the more recent past or the present. Afghanistan is a good example of this last sentence. Whenever  individual rights are sacrificed for the interests of national of foreign groups of interests the positive outcomes will always result in detriment of the individual.  It has always been groups of interests who benefit from the illiterate masses and historical examples explain this plentifully.

The images in the link mentioned above are inaccurate historical accounts. I consider that the following cartoon is very clear in explaining the complex and unfortunate story of the country and I invite you to study it,

New Blog: Laissez Faire by Don Watkins and Yaron Brook

A new blog has been born for those of you interested in learning and discussing the principles of Capitalism.  The title of the blog is “Laissez Faire: The Uncompromised Case for Capitalism” and is going to be written by Don Watkins and Yaron Brook from the Ayn Rand Institute.  The blog aims to discuss the philosophic ideas that shape economic policy.

I invite you start following it and to start commenting their articles.  Indeed, this is great news for the spread of Objectivism, the Philosophy of Ayn Rand!

Social Media of Laissez Faire

Free Webinar: Is there a moral way to go to war or fight a war?

  • When: Thursday, November 17th
  • Time: 1 PM Eastern (7 pm +1GMT)
  • Hosted by: Atlas Society
Standing by on a hilltop, Soldiers with the 10...
Image via Wikipedia

The Iraq war is winding down, but NATO remains heavily engaged in an ugly guerrilla war in Afghanistan. And the U.S. launches drone strikes against civilians world-wide as part of the “War on Terror.”

In this webinar, William R Thomas will discuss justice in the context of war-fighting.

  • Should there be restrictions on weapons or tactics?
  • Is there a workable distinction between combatants and non-combatants?

To answer these questions we need to ask what the goals of war-fighting are and how justice in wartime differs from justice in the normal context of life.

This interactive webinar will consist in a live slide-show with audio presentation that will run about 30 minutes. Then William Thomas will discuss questions from the audience. There’s time for everyone’s questions to be answered.

Space is allocated first-come, first-served.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at: www3.gotomeeting.com/register/199696406